Melvin guides first winner at Pukekohe

Tayla Melvin pictured after riding her first winner at Pukekohe on Saturday. Photo: Kenton Wright (Race Images)

Tayla Melvin had an afternoon to remember at Pukekohe Park on Saturday, riding her first winner in the saddle aboard the Mark Walker and Sam Bergerson-trained Devoted.

The 21-year-old is apprenticed to the Te Akau Racing trainers and made her raceday debut aboard the stable’s mare Polly Plum in mid-April at Matamata, finishing third.

With a further nine raceday rides under her belt, Melvin combined with the son of Contributer in the TAB NZ 2100, where he was rated a $16.30 chance after finishing strongly last-start for fourth under the young hoop at Rotorua.

Devoted jumped fairly away from barrier seven and Melvin allowed the six-year-old to settle back at the tail of the 14-horse field, sitting three-wide in the heavy conditions.

The gelding was travelling better than most turning for home, sweeping to the extreme outside and running down Charlbury to score by a neck at the post.

Melvin was elated after the victory, which follows an extensive list of Te Akau apprentices to salute on raceday including Daniel Stackhouse, Vinnie Colgan, Opie Bosson and Troy Harris.

“It’s good to finally get the monkey off my back this early in my career, it’s pretty good,” she said.

“I probably rode him a bit further back than I had anticipated, but he’s the kind of horse that switches off and relaxes in behind midfield.

“When he came into the home straight, he let down really nicely.

“I did think it might be coming (the win), but I didn’t want to get too confident.”

While Melvin didn’t initially have a career in horses in mind, she ended up working for Wingatui couple Terry and Debbie Kennedy, and a move to Matamata soon provided an opportunity to start an apprenticeship.

“I said to myself when I left school that I didn’t want to pursue a career in horses, but here I am,” she said.

“I’m originally from down south in Mosgiel, and I was based with Terry and Debbie Kennedy down there.

“I started with Te Akau about a year ago, and Mark offered for me to stay and do my apprenticeship with him, so I haven’t looked back since.”

Walker was full of praise for Melvin, while indicating a future over the fences is a possibility for her winning mount.

“She’s an important part of the team, rides beautiful track work, and all the staff will be rapt for her,” he said.

“She’s been getting better in every ride since starting off last month and her fitness is continuing to improve. I think she’s got a bright future.

“And the horse, Devoted, he’s continuing to furnish and mature, although it has taken time, and he could develop into a really nice steeplechaser.”

Horse racing news

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments